I read this post from Steven Furtick the other day (love his blog– it always seems to provide either a challenge or encouragement to what I’m facing in ministry) and I can’t stop thinking about the implications it has for me as a creative, artist, and minister.
There’s a well-known quote in the marketing and business world from Steve Jobs about the importance of getting your ideas out the door.
Real artists ship.
Jobs isn’t just speaking of people who paint, draw, sculpt, or make music. It’s anyone who has the responsibility for creating anything. Products. Services. Reports. Even sermons.
Real artists don’t delay their creation’s release in an attempt to make it perfect. They put in the work and get it as close as they can, and then release it. The most significant ideas in the world are the ones that have been shipped.Not the ones that are perfect. And that’s because no idea is ever perfect.
This is a difficult but necessary truth for anyone who creates. But pastors probably need to embrace it the most. We more than anyone have the tendency to obsess over every facet of the creative work we ship every Sunday and think it needs to be perfect to be effective. I know this better than anyone. There have been countless times when I’ve finished a sermon and wished I could have worked on it more. Brought it closer to perfection.
But at some point you have to put your ideas out there
Real artists ship. Creation, although a joy in itself should culminate in consumption.
I struggle in this. I write songs but don’t let them live long enough to see daylight. I never feel that they are good enough, or–more accurately–I never invest the hard work to make them good enough. I have stubs of songs wasting away in iTunes, GarageBand, my iPhone, and various moleskines that were “the best inspiration I’ve ever had!” one day and “too poppy”, “top cliche”, “too complex”, “too plain”, or any other number of excuses the next day. It’s a little embarrassing.
I’m beginning (again) to recognize this as a disservice to myself and poor stewardship of the gifts God has given me. If writing music is truly something I love (it is) and feel gifted in (I do–in a humble, insecure sort of way), then I ought to do it well, right?
Anyway, I’m adding some practices to my songwriting that should help me “ship more product.” I’m starting a band with some guys that I trust who will help me work through the music and lyrics that have accumulated but never fully distilled. I’m also talking with some friends to start co-writing some worship music to keep creativity fresh and bring a different perspective to my writing. I’m also hoping to start introducing more original music to my local congregation (with the help and peer review of our worship team and other staff). Mostly, I want to start forcing myself out of comfort and apathy and put myself in place where these songs will either live and be a blessing to people or die off so I can move onto something new.
Either way, I’ll keep creating.